Why vegetarian and vegan diets contain all the protein that you need. Proteins form the basis of muscles, hair, nails and collagen. They are also needed to make a variety of other molecules, including neurotransmitters, thyroid hormones, haem, DNA and RNA. Diets that contain enough energy (calories) typically contain plenty of protein. Most foods can easily provide us with the eight per cent calories from protein which the World Health Organisation recommends. Western vegetarians and vegans get enough protein, including plenty of the amino acids they need, as long as they are getting enough energy (calories). Especially good sources of high quality protein include soya products, cereals, pulses, nuts and seeds. The average adult needs to consume between 45 and 55.5 grams of protein per day. Excess animal protein is linked with kidney disease, osteoporosis, cancers, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Plant proteins can do a better job of meeting your protein needs than animal products, both because they are less concentrated sources of protein (making it less likely that you’ll get too much) and because they are more likely to be present with other nutrients such as fibre, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and healthy fats.
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